For the first time since Feb. 13, 2020, the Calaveras High School boys’ soccer team got to play a game on its actual home field. In August of 2020, Calaveras’ Frank Meyer Field was labeled as unusable and until the turf was replaced, no games could be played on it.
Calaveras played a short eight-game season in the spring of 2021 and all of the home games were played at Toyon Middle School. So, for their first game on their new home field, the Calaveras players wanted to make it a night to remember.
Calaveras defended its new home turf by beating the Ripon Christian Knights 2-1 Monday night in San Andreas.
“It feels awesome,” Calaveras head coach Rob Leetham said following the win. “After last year and the things that this team went through with not being able to play on our home field, and playing Summerville four times out of eight games and everything else that went on with the Covid issues, the guys have worked so hard since then. To come out here on opening night and get that reward of a hard-fought victory just means everything right now.”
The two teams seemed to be measuring one another out early in the contest, with neither squad able to figure out the other. With 4:45 to play in the opening half, Calaveras was awarded a free kick deep in Ripon Christian territory. Co-captain Carter Mabanag took a shot that bounced off a number of bodies and the ball came to the feet of Alvin Marquez. Instinctively, Marquez took a shot right by the goal and he didn’t miss.
“I saw that my teammate had the ball on the left side and I knew he was going to cross it in and I was just trying to stay calm, cool and collected,” Marquez said. “A lot of times it’s really easy to miss those simple shots. I just kept my calm and wanted to show my team what I’m made of. We found out that we are not too shabby and that we can actually score and play well.”
Calaveras led 1-0 and the score remained the same until 36:02 to play in the second half, when Ripon Christian got its only goal of the night. Even with the game once again tied, Marquez was proud of the way his team didn’t allow the score to change their mentality out on the field.
“We played with our Calaveras pride and we didn't let that goal get in our heads,” Marquez said. “We kept our chins up and that’s the No. 1 thing that we did.”
Following the Ripon Christian goal, Calaveras played strong defense and continued to attack offensively. With 18:19 to play, Oscar Leyva took a shot that ended up being the game-winning score.
“Once Carter (Mabanag) hit it, he was able to redirect it to me,” Leyva said about his goal that gave Calaveras the lead for good. “I tapped it and I just knew that I didn’t have to put much power on it. I just had to get it under that goalie.”
Calaveras protected its slim lead as time ticked down. There was a little scare right as time expired, as a Ripon Christian defender intercepted a pass deep in Calaveras territory and took an open shot. Fortunately for Calaveras, the shot sailed wide to the right only seconds before time expired.
“We had a great balance tonight,” Leetham said. “We played strong in all areas of the field. One thing that I’m excited about this year with this team is that they play as a team. In practice, in warmups and in games, they play as a team and want everyone to be involved. Even the guys off the bench contributed a lot tonight. It was a good, balanced win for us.”